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Sending your son to boarding school can be a stressful and emotional experience. How do you know if you’re making the right decision and more importantly, how do you choose a quality boarding school?

We have covered the benefits of boarding school and advantages from students’ perspectives; but as a parent, how do you know what to look for when doing your research? You can make the whole experience a whole lot less stressful by being informed. 

Here’s what to expect from a quality boarding school.

Experienced housemasters and tutors

Student boarders should be under the care of qualified and experienced housemasters and tutors. This means students will have constant access to a range of qualified teaching staff for support with school work and general advice, and pastoral care staff to look after student emotional needs and general wellbeing. When researching boarding schools, ask about staff credentials and experience, to work out if the school is a good fit. Great staff also strive to be good role models. This results in reciprocal respect between the staff and students, and genuine positive and mature relationships.

Strong pastoral care focus, philosophy and practice

Pastoral care is a large part of the boarding school experience. The term has become something of a ‘buzz word’ in education yet not many schools do it well. The Scots pastoral care program comes from the top – Principal of The Scots College, Dr Ian PM Lambert, has written about it previously. Good pastoral care should create a sense of belonging, develop skills such as resilience and self-reliance, track individual student progress, celebrate achievements and be a two-way partnership between school and home.  It should include proactive elements – such as developing skills that promote a school culture of respect, teamwork and participation – and reactive elements like providing comfort in response to hurt, or encouragement in the face of disappointment.

After-hours access to sports grounds and facilities

Look for quality sports grounds and other facilities that boarders have access to outside of school hours. This is a major advantage for boarding students. Not only does it provide them with extra time to exercise and master sport and music skills, they can do so away from the pressure of being around their peers. Access to school facilities also helps to keep students focused on their end goals due to having an optimal environment to work in. 

Structured times to complete work

A quality boarding school will have regular supervised and managed study routines for students. This not only provides boarding students with an opportunity to complete school work with the aid of a tutor, it can also develop effective and independent study skills that will greatly benefit them during and beyond their schooling years. 

Lifelong friendships and supportive alumni network

It is worth considering the alumni networks of boarding schools. How strong are the alumni relationships? How often do alumni meet? Boarding friendships are unique and often lifelong supportive relationships. Your son will make friends that will potentially form a big part of his adult life, personally and professionally.

Of course this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to researching boarding schools for your son. There are many more aspects to consider, and ultimately it’s a personal choice that needs to align with your family’s needs and values.

Want to learn more about how to choose the right boarding school for your child? Download Your ultimate guide to choosing a boarding school for expert tips.

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